Book Chapter

Exercise, Physical Activity, and Mental Health

ML Kern

Encyclopedia of Mental Health: Second Edition | Published : 2016


Physical activity and exercise demonstrate clear physical health benefits, but less attention has been given to potential mental health benefits. This article provides an overview of activity, exercise, and mental health. Activity is associated with greater quality of life and less psychological distress in both clinical and nonclinical populations. Exercise may be a viable treatment option for some mental illnesses, with effects comparable to psychotherapy and medication. Studies have numerous limitations, and optimal levels needed for mental health benefits are unknown, but moderate levels of activity indeed may be an important part of a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle.